Kate Macintosh joins latest attempt to save 1960s estate from bulldozers


The 2021 Jane Drew Award winner helped submit a nomination urging Historic England to protect Rosemary Stjernstedt’s 450-home estate at Central Hill in Gypsy Hill. A previous offer from the Twentieth Century Society was rejected in 2016.

It comes as the council prepares for the first phase of Central Hill regeneration, demolishing the four-story Truslove House hostel on Roman Rise and replacing it with 31 new homes designed by Greenwich-based firm BTPW.

The building is already wrapped in panels ready to be demolished, but residents of the estate are still hoping they can persuade Historic England to intervene.

Macintosh told the AJ: ‘This would be Lambeth’s first step in executing his intention to demolish the Central Hill Estate in its entirety, which is why strong opposition is urgently needed, while the demand for inscription is under consideration by Historic England. “.

The architect explained that Truslove House was designed as accommodation for nurses working at the Norwood District Hospital and that Stjernstedt personally took charge of its design.

“ Her consultation with matrons and nurses led to the decision to include common facilities such as kitchens, laundry facilities and a seating area with access to the garden in the program. ”

The Truslove House program was approved in October, but an estate-wide master plan has yet to be developed for the reconstruction, despite being slated for demolition since 2016.

Macintosh said Lambeth, in its request to redevelop Truslove House, sought to avoid a total site clearing “ blitzkreig ” and “ gradually erode and nibble, removing a tree here and a block there- low ”. She added: ‘In this way they hope to reduce opposition, bad publicity and generate fatalism among the locals.

The fact that the destruction of this accommodation, designed by a woman for women, can be seen as the dedication and sacrifice of the NHS nurses and that the debt we owe them is at the forefront of public consciousness illustrates how Lambeth is ready to be ruthless. seeking to erase the legacy of the Hollamby years.

Ted Hollamby was Lambeth’s director of architecture, planning and development from 1969 to 1981.

BPTW Roman Rise Project – view along the central hill

Lambeth faced similar opposition to his ‘piecemeal demolition’ at Cressingham Gardens, near Brockwell Park, where he demolished 12 houses on Ropers Walk for a new Conran and Partners building.

In its rejection of the 2016 listing offer, Historic England said that although Central Hill represented an early exploration of Le Corbusier’s’ hill town ‘concept in England, it lacked’ the combination finely constructed architectural units, integrated into a creative and sophisticated plan. ”

The new app challenges the ruling and argues that Stjernstedt is now recognized as one of Britain’s most important post-war architects.

He contradicts Historic England’s claim that the Central Hill design was not “ original ” or influential by pointing out that it was completed three years before Benson & Forsyth’s famous Branch Hill, also built on a slope north of London and classified II * in 2010.

One of the most striking differences between the two estates is the upkeep, according to the report, with the upkeep of Central Hill “almost non-existent” for many years, in stark contrast to the pristine condition of Branch Hill.

“ Could it be that the fame and prestige of Benson and Forsyth after winning the Museum of Scotland competition in 1996, unlike the relative obscurity of Rosemary Stjernstedt and the current state of Central Hill has led to the different final recommendations? asks the report.

It also highlights the environmental cost of demolishing the estate, pointing to Historic England’s own Heritage Counts report which argues that repairing and reusing historic buildings is materially less carbon intensive than demolition.

“Listing Central Hill means protecting Central Hill from demolition, but it also presents opportunities for community-driven renovation. Residents are looking for a low-carbon renovation of Central Hill, according to the Heritage Counts report.

“This could include air-source heat pumps, hardwood window frames and wood wool insulation. Ensure that the materials and strategies used to achieve a more sustainable Central Hill in the short term are essential; in particular in line with the Lambeth Council’s ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. ”

The Twentieth Century Society had opposed the demolition of Truslove House, writing in its letter of objection: ‘We recognize that flexibility and compromise would be required for Central Hill to be successfully redeveloped into social housing, possibly involving be the replacement of peripheral buildings of lesser importance. importance.

“ However, we consider that this should be justified as part of a domain-wide strategy, rather than the piecemeal approach exemplified in this app. Without any indication of the long-term future of the estate at this point, we cannot see that a balanced judgment can be made as to the level of prejudice these proposals would cause to the importance of the estate.

In 2019, Lambeth Council announced that it was internally taking over the entire regeneration of the Central Hill estate in south London, which would be run by its own development company Homes for Lambeth, after abandoning the contractor. Mace.

In 2014, the council commissioned PRP to develop options for a “higher density” redevelopment of the Central Hill estate, but the plans were not implemented.

Historic England has confirmed that it has received an application for listing and is reviewing the matter. Lambeth’s counsel has been asked for comment.

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